My Coat of Arms

Arms of Justin Place

Place Arms 1969
My first design, 1969

In 1969 I was just learning about heraldry. I knew my step-father had a coat of arms and my mother’s father had a coat of arms, but I hadn’t yet discovered a coat of arms for my paternal ancestors. So, I designed my own. Frankly, they’re still my favorite.

The blazon is Per pale Argent and Azure, in dexter chief a cornflower Azure and in base two bars wavy counterchanged.

Arms of Justin Howery 

One of my earliest attempts to define and register my arms was in 1983.

Howery Arms Augustan Society 1983
Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 1983
Howery Bookplate
Bookplate by Richard Crossett.

By a custom of heraldry, the undifferenced arms belong to the heir of the original bearer. So, I differenced the original Hauri arms by adding a chief that draws from the arms of my step-father, Carroll Arthur Place. I also altered the original Hauri crest, which was “a dove, as in the arms.” And, I used the motto traditional in my branch of the family, Hora e Semper, which is said to mean “Now and Always.” It is probably a pun devised by my great grandfather, Rev. Elmer Phillip Howery, whose wife was an Alloway. In local records her maiden name was sometimes recorded as “Always.”

I recorded the resulting arms with the American College of Heraldry in 2000:

Howery Arms ACH 2000
American Heraldry Society, 2000

Azure a dove roussant Argent beaked and membered Gules, and for difference on a chief Argent three chaplets of roses Gules leaved Vert. Crest: A pair of wings conjoined in lure each charged with a rose Gules. Motto: Hora e Semper (Now and Always).

Arms of Justin Swanström 

By heraldic custom, arms should correspond to a person’s surname. So, when I changed my surname to Swanström in 2002, I dropped my paternal Howery arms and adopted a version of the Swanström arms. Such changes were common in the Middle Ages when men who adopted their mothers’ surnames also adopted the arms of their mothers’ families.

To avoid infringing on the rights of my Swanström uncle and cousins, I needed to make some changes to personalize the arms. Swedish heraldry was much influenced by German heraldry, so I adopted a German form of differencing, in which a man uses his father’s shield unchanged but substitutes the crest of his mother’s father. Because I was adopting the arms of my mother’s family, I reversed the rule, adopting the unchanged shield of my maternal grandfather, and substituting my paternal crest. I also changed the motto.

Swanstrom Arms South Africa Preliminary Design 2006
Preliminary Design by South African Bureau of Heraldry, 2006.

I registered these arms with the South African Bureau of Heraldry in 2006:

On a shield Azure two bars wavy Argent between three swans rising wings elevated and addorsed Argent beaked and membered Or; for a crest, upon a helm mantled Azure doubled Argent, issuant from a crest-coronet Or a pair of wings conjoined in lure Argent each charged with a rose Gules; for supporters, two swans rising wings elevated and addorsed Argent beaked and membered Or ducally gorged and chained Or; and for a motto, Be Just & Fear Not.

My bookplate shows an elaborated version of these arms, with decorative supporters, in accordance with Continental custom. The supporters are not intended to be insignia of rank, as they would be in the British systems of heraldry. (My paternal ancestors used supporters — two bears salient — in the same way.)

Swanstrom bookplate by Daniel de Bruin
Bookplate by Daniel de Bruin.
  • The Augustan Society, The Augustan Society Roll of Arms, 52-53 (Justin Durand, 5 March 1983).
  • American College of Heraldry, No. 1943 (Justin Howery, 29 February 2000).
  • State Herald of South Africa, No. 3578 (Justin Swanstrom, 7 July 2006).
  • United States Heraldic Registry, No. 20070204G (Justin Swanstrom, 4 February 2007).
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